Work stoppage at Honolulu Harbor delays shipments to neighbor islands

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Shipping company Pasha Hawaii says there’s been a work stoppage at Honolulu Harbor by its stevedores.

But the company tells us it has chartered special barges to ease concerns over shipments to the neighbor islands.

The container ship Pacific Horizon arrived from the mainland Wednesday and sat idle at Pier 51. None of the goods were unloaded.

A crew was supposed to start unloading it at 6 p.m. Wednesday, but no one showed up. The morning shift did the same thing.

Late Thursday afternoon, we got word from the company’s spokeswoman that workers arrived at around 2:30 p.m.

The ship carries all types of household goods, produce, and meats to major retailers. The company issued a statement saying container availability and barge connections will be delayed due to labor shortages.

We’ve learned Costco Wholesale is one of the biggest companies shipping its goods from the West Coast to Hawaii aboard Pasha’s ships, so any work stoppage at our ports is a concern for the big-box retailer, as well as for the truck drivers who regularly bring their goods here.

“Nothing is moving in the pier, nothing’s coming out. The stores have got to be stocked somehow,” said truck driver Clyde Peters.

Management at the Costco in Iwilei says it’s not a problem so far for the stores on Oahu, but it could create some problems for neighbor island stores.

Mike Hansen, president of the Hawaii Shippers’ Council, says a one-day delay at Honolulu ports means a two- to three-day delay for the neighbor islands. Once the goods are unloaded in Honolulu, they are then taken to a barge operated by Young Brothers to the neighbor island ports, and those barges have set schedules of departures.

“If there’s been a delay and they miss the Young Brothers barge sailing to a neighbor island port, then they have to wait to until the next sailing, and so there’ll be a delay of a day, two days, three days depending upon which island port you’re talking about,” Hansen explained.

We checked with the Costco stores on Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii Island, but have not heard back from management.

Pasha says it has secured special charter barges to the neighbor island ports to help offset the delays.

Hansen says it’s rare for unionized dock workers to organize a work stoppage unless they were negotiating for a new contract. The union ILWU and the maritime companies agreed on a five-year contract two years ago. Hansen says the work stoppage is a violation of the contract, so the company could take the union to arbitration to recover revenues lost.

We went to the union to find out why the workers did not show up, and were told no one was available to talk.

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